The Long Branch Road bridge, at Exit 71, over Interstate 95 in Dunn will close around 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9th marking the first stage of a $404 million contract by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to widen 15 miles of the interstate. Traffic will be rerouted during the closure.
A contractor will demolish the two-lane bridge and replace it with a taller and longer bridge that will have three lanes. All four ramps will be realigned and elevated to match the higher bridge.
The realignment will make it possible to extend the ramps for drivers merging onto the highway, and to separate service roads that now intersect with the ramps. The changes will enhance the safety of the interchange and create room to double the highway’s travel lanes to eight.
NCDOT officials estimate the new bridge and upgraded interchange will open in about one year. After the bridge closes, I-95 drivers initially will continue to be allowed to take the Exit 71 and turn right, but not left. Eventually, all of the ramps will be closed, requiring drivers to detour to Exit 70 instead.
In preparation of closing the Exit 71 bridge, crews in January added temporary pavement and concrete barriers in order to maintain four lanes (two in each direction) on I-95 during construction.
However, removing the Long Branch Road bridge will require overnight detours the week of Feb. 9 on I-95. That will require drivers to simply exit off and re-enter the highway at the same exit. Details of the overnight detours will be posted to DriveNC.gov.
After a rebuilt Exit 71 is reopened, the Bud Hawkins Road bridge (Exit 70) will close for the same kind of reconstruction for about one year.
The contract calls for widening I-95 between mile marker 56 in Eastover and Exit 71 in Dunn. The design and right-of-way acquisition for the rest of the route will be completed this year, allowing more construction to proceed by this fall. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2024.
The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to award a construction contract in July to upgrade the interchanges and similarly widen I-95 from Exit 71 north to Exit 81 at Interstate 40 in Johnston County.
-Dunn Daily Record